The Soviets: Changing the Guard

After Brezhnev's 18-year rule, the U.S.S.R. gets an enigmatic new leader

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It would take a true optimist to give butter the edge in this debate or to predict that Andropov will have the power, the time, or even the inclination to push through the reforms that are necessary to turn the Soviet economy around. Still, it would be a mistake to underestimate the enduring strength of the gigantic industrial machine that Brezhnev helped build. Moreover, the often cumbersome Soviet political system is still flexible enough to allow a new generation of leaders to make crucial decisions on the allocation of resources, industrial growth and military spending that will assure the Soviet Union's survival as a formidable superpower.

—By Patricia Blake. Reported by Erik Amfitheatrof/Moscow, with other bureaus

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